The devil in the detail.
'The food we eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison'.
~ Ann Wigmore.
HOW do we really know if WHAT we're eating is either powerful medicine or a slow poison?
It's incredibly difficult.
Take for example what came up for me this past week. You may have seen it too.
'Low gluten diets linked to higher risk of type 2 diabetes', was the attention grabbing headline.
The opening paragraph read,
'Eating more gluten may be associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions'.
It immediately got me questioning my long held beliefs around gluten. In all my research what have I missed?
And WHY question the findings of a well qualified research fellow, 'Geng Zong, Ph.D., from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts'?
I read on, looking for the science behind the findings in the article and to understand the research myself. There wasn't any.
Okay then how about the study itself? A quick search for the actual study was 'fruitless' (pun intended)! I didn't find it.
After reviewing the article, I found the devil in the detail, and it made me furious. It again confirms the continuing deceit and misleading information we are fed and lead to believe by corrupt researchers and powerful profit hungry corporations.
So before breaking out the Weetbix and celebrating this 'new' research, here's what I found when I took a closer look and dug a little deeper.
If you haven't already, you might like to read the article first and form your own views, fyi there were many articles written on the study, this is just one.
The key points;
1. 'Gluten free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients'.
While the article doesn't define what the 'gluten free foods' are, it is most likely referring to packaged gluten free foods. It can't be referring to fruits, vegetables and real food in it's natural, whole form because they're naturally packaged full of wonderful healing nutrients.
So the foods they must be referring to are not what I call 'food', in that they are highly refined and consequently need flavour added e.g. sugars and vegetable oils, additives and preservatives and yes, they are void of nutrients.
The assumption is that when study participants removed gluten, they removed important nutrients. In my experience however, most people adopting a healthier lifestyle will opt for more whole foods and less packaged foods i.e. adding in MORE nutrients not less. I assume the objective of the study wasn't to look at HOW to improve health.
Which brings us to the next point...
2. 'Those who ate the most gluten had lower Type 2 diabetes risk during thirty years of follow-up'.
For the study participants eating less gluten & with higher risk of T2 diabetes, what were they eating in place of gluten? Were they eating more healthy whole foods or more packaged and refined foods? The article doesn't tell us this.
3. In the study of 199,794 participants, who all had some gluten in their diets ranging from 5.8 - 7.1g of gluten. fyi an average slice of whole wheat bread “contains around 4.8 grams of gluten" (source, coeliac.com), 15,947 cases of Type 2 diabetes were confirmed'. This equates to 12.5% of study participants who were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. What does this mean?
I checked the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In Australia one million people (4.4%) had Type 2 diabetes in 2014-15.
Either way, 12.5% of participants in the study diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is still high.
4. The study research was conducted over the time period 1984-1990 to 2010-2013, what happened in the gap of 10 years between studies?? We know illness isn't something that happens over night. It takes years in the making. The missing data in those 10 years could be significant and have influenced the results. We don't know.
5. Healthy lifestyle choices make a big difference to Type 2 diabetes. There is no reference to any level of lifestyle activity the study participants may have or may not have done.
6. The concluding paragraph in the article states, 'Study participants reported their gluten consumption and the study was observational, therefore findings warrant confirmation by other investigations. Also, most of the participants took part in the study before gluten-free diets became popular, so there is no data from gluten abstainers'.
After all that, further confirmation is needed! And wouldn't it be good to know the incidence of Type 2 diabetes is in those abstaining from gluten completely?
Another important consideration.
Who funded the study by Geng Zong, PhD? University research quite often requires funding from outside sources. I couldn't find this out either.
The study was presented to the American Heart Association (AHA), similar to the Australian Heart Foundation, it's sponsors are a the 'who's-who' of corporate and industry giants. With links to big business, the AHA is hardly in a position to share information that upsets their lucrative financial relationships - are they? The AHA shares a list of sponsors here and here.
If I sound cynical, its because I am - with my personal experience and many years studying information such as this, I sense a snippet of data has been pulled from a large study to satisfy the business imperatives of large corporations who are maybe or maybe not, just a little concerned about the global shift to gluten free living.
This article raises more questions than answers for me, and despite the qualifications cited, is inconclusive in its findings.
On face value the article tells us low gluten diets are linked to diabetes, implying we'd better all start eating gluten to avoid diabetes. However when we take a moment to look more closely at the information and what's being said or what is NOT being said then the research actually doesn't tell us much and is flawed.
- There is so much information available when it comes to diet, rather than quickly skimming something and trusting it on the surface, I highly recommend taking time to consider where the information is coming from and what it's really saying, or not saying, (even this post)!Keep doing your own research and when you find a source that you trust and know, check in with them and get their views on certain topics. Although I hope that I am one of those resources. There are many for me, two standouts are Dr Joseph Mercola - a long time resource (about 20 years)!, along with the Weston A Price Foundation.
- We are not used to questioning what we're told by people in positions of authority. Why should we, they're the experts.We do need to question them because, 'what if they're wrong'? What if their good intentions are 'politically' influenced? (An influence they themselves may not even be aware of)?We need to ask our own questions, to be curious, our good health might depend on it. It's certainly been my experience with our families health challenges.
- The nutrient quality and bioavailability (i.e. how available those nutrients are to our unique chemistry) in what we eat is fundamental to our wellbeing and our ability to ward off disease including Type 2 diabetes, there is no doubt about it.In regard to 'how to know WHAT to eat?', keep it simple and stick to whole foods in their most natural, unprocessed or refined form with an emphasis on healthy fats and protein for our macro nutrients and the colours of the rainbow for our micro and phyto nutrients. I'll be sharing more on this next time!
- Personally, with the research I've done over the years, I still believe that refined gluten (wheat) in Australia and America, not so much Europe, is a highly inflammatory food and definitely an important food to avoid, especially if you have type 2 diabetes or any other autoimmune condition.
- If nothing else I hope I've given you some 'food for thought'.